Women In Science Shirt, hoodie
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So for example, in the last year, we’ve removed products and stores related to Proud Boys, and Boogaloo, and QAnon, and anyone else violating Shopify’s acceptable use policy. But the idea is to actually create a framework to say, “If it breaches this, it’s gone.” Now you can say, “Well, what about the law? Can you just rely on the law?” Unfortunately, the problem is, the law doesn’t operate at the same rate of change and pace as the internet does.
So for example, for a while, ghost guns were technically legal, a 3D printed gun was technically legal. But we did not believe that was acceptable on our platform. So we were very clear that that is not acceptable. And anytime we saw that, we were able to kick them off. So by creating this AUP, we think that — it’s not perfect and there’s still room to improve on that — but the AUP at least gives us a framework to say, “This crosses the line, and this does not.” And then we kick them off.
One of the most interesting things about this conversation with you in particular is that it’s not a free speech conversation. It’s not a Section 230 conversation. You’re not running a social media platform. You’re running a commerce platform. There are actually different rules and a different entire set of lawsuits happening around what online merchants can and can’t sell, and what they’re responsible for.
How big is your trust and safety team, and how much does it run into the trust and safety problems that a social media platform might have? Because, it seems like you need a big one that’s pointed in a different direction.
Our team is big enough that they can, like, it’s sufficiently staffed that they can do what they want. But also, a lot of it is based on machine learning and AI, whereby we know certain keywords or meta tags contravene the AUP, and they’re gone. In some cases, you get to a point where you actually have to really think about it. I mean, you mentioned the Trump store. I mean, the Trump store was taken off the platform when that trust and safety team believed that he was inciting violence in the Capitol. That contravened and went against the AUP policy.
So the team will keep growing, but actually over time, the algorithms get smarter at saying, “This is a store that’s flagged.” We can take a look at it and we can say, “Yes, this is appropriate.” Or, “It’s not appropriate.” And if it’s not, we kick them off the platform. That’s not to say that store is not going to exist elsewhere. We just don’t want it on Shopify.
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